Expert Pitch

Mouthwash should be evaluated for its ability to inactivate coronavirus

American Physiological Society (APS)

Readily available dental mouthwashes have potential to destroy the lipid envelope of coronaviruses and inactivate virus in the mouth and throat

Research suggests that the salivary glands and throat are a major source of coronavirus replication and that a high viral load in the mouth likely contributes to disease spread in early stages of infection. Studies have also demonstrated that substances that disrupt the fatty lipid envelope that holds the virus together—such as soap and alcohol—inactivate the virus.  

In a new Evidence Review of more than 100 articles, researchers examined ingredients commonly found in oral rinses—including ethanol, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, hydrogen peroxide and povidone-iodine—and weighed their potential to disrupt the lipid envelope of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduce viral spread. The findings, published in Function, conclude that there is an urgent need to test the effectiveness of these agents in clinical trials.

“Notably the lipid envelope does not vary when viruses mutate,” added lead author Valerie O’Donnell, PhD, of Cardiff University in Wales. “This means that if this approach can inactivate coronaviruses, the strategy—if effective—should still work the same towards new strains.”

The article was co-authored by an international, multidisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in lipid biology, virology and antimicrobial therapy.

The following experts are available for interviews: 

Valerie O'Donnell, PhD, is a professor and Co-director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute. O’Donnell’s expertise is in the area of lipid biology and her research has led to the discovery and characterization of many inflammatory bioactive lipids.

Syed Sattar, PhD, is professor emeritus of Microbiology at the Faculty of Medicine of University of Ottawa in Canada. He is an expert in the area of antimicrobials and conducts research dealing with environmental and medical microbiology as it pertains to public health. 

David Thomas, BDS, PhD, is a professor and consultant and leads the Advanced Therapies Group at Cardiff University. His research is focused on delivering new therapies to treat chronic infective and inflammatory conditions.   

Albert Bosch, PhD, is a full professor of Microbiology and head of the Enteric Virus laboratory at the University of Barcelona. He is an expert with more than 40 years experience as a virologist, and more than 200 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on enteric viruses.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with one or more of the experts listed above, please contact the APS Communications Office or call 301.634.7314.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents 9,000 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

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